Visited on a freezing cold snowy Sunday morning with Scrappy NW and Katy. Long overdue visit this one but access isn't always possible. Inside its dark and decrepit yet enough remains to get an idea of how it looked when it was in full flow. The stage area was a no go as it has now collapsed. Structuraly it was fairly sound even in the upper areas. Things were made to last in 1894 obviously.
Theatres have so much history and are always wonderful places to explore and photograph even if their condition is so poor. On with some history.
I'm sure you have all read the history of this pace in other reports but i'll put a brief summary here:
The Burnley Empire Theatre has a profoundly poignant history that starts in the 19th Century when it was first designed by GB Rawcliffe in 1894. Owned and managed by WC Horner, it was a theatre of high regard and continued to such following works in 1911, when the auditorium was redesigned by Bertie Crewe, well respected architect, much of whose work is no longer standing – pulled down to make way for housing, shops or other amenities, or victims of the war that destroyed so many beautiful buildings.
The interior boasts ‘two slightly curved wide and deep balconies, terminating in superimposed stage boxes framed between massive Corinthian columns supporting a deep cornice. Segmental-arched proscenium, with richly decorated spandrels and heraldic cartouche. Side walls feature plaster panels, pilasters and drops. Flat, panelled ceiling with circular centre panel and central sun burner. Restrained heraldic and Greek plasterwork on balcony and box fronts’ .
The Theatre opened on Monday the 29th of October 1894 with a variety show and could originally seat 1,935 people.
During its time as a theatrical venue, Charlie Chaplin, Margot Fonteyn and Gracie Fields are just a few of the names to have appeared on the now broken stage.
In 1938 The Theatre was converted for cinema use by the Architects Lewis and Company of Liverpool, and the seating capacity was reduced to 1,808 in the process.
Like so many other Theatres around the Country the Empire was eventually converted for Bingo use in 1970 but even this ceased in 1995 and the Theatre, despite being a Grade II Listed building, has been empty ever since and is in serious decline, and listed as one of the Theatres Trust's buildings at risk.
On with the pics